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College will Share in $2.5 Million Federal Grant

Peer Mentor Deanna Nortier, a senior occupational sciences major, works with a DRIVE student during art class.

Keuka College and three other local higher education institutions have received a federal grant to help students with intellectual disabilities go to college.

The five-year, $2.5 million grant was awarded to the Institute for Innovative Transition at the University of Rochester under the new U.S. Department of Education Transition and Postsecondary Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID). Keuka, Rochester, Monroe Community College, and Roberts Wesleyan will share in the grant.

“We are delighted to be a part of this consortium and look forward to working with the other three institutions to provide more educational opportunities to students with intellectual disabilities,” said Keuka College President Joseph G. Burke. “Our DRIVE (Diversity, Responsibility, Inclusion, Vision, and Experiential Learning) program is already recognized as a model program in this area.”

In the program, Keuka College students serve as peer mentors to young adults with intellectual disabilities as they assimilate into the college environment and explore their personal goals.

DRIVE students are given Keuka College IDs that allow them to take materials out of the library and use dining and athletic facilities, and have Keuka e-mail accounts. They are guests in at least one Keuka College course each semester.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Anne Marie Guthrie, dean of the Center for Experiential Learning. “The DRIVE program allows high school post-graduate students and adults with intellectual disabilities age appropriate and inclusive educational opportunities while providing Keuka students enhanced experiential learning opportunities through their instructional and personal relationships with persons who have differing abilities and needs.”

The grant will allow each higher education institution to partner with a local school district and/or adult agency. DRIVE is a collaboration between Keuka College, Penn Yan Central School District, and Yates County ARC.

According to Guthrie, some of the projects that the consortium will be working on over the duration of the grant are disability and diversity awareness; self-advocacy and self-determination; understanding universal design for the curriculum; research on, and assessment of, the impact of transition programs; and job coaching and peer mentoring programs.

Like DRIVE, the Institute for Innovative Transition—which was launched in 2008 and sustained through $1.5 million in grants from the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation— aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families as they transition from school age to adulthood.

Former President Bill Clinton recognized the DRIVE program in April at the Third Clinton Global Initiative at the University of Miami. Burke; DRIVE student Helen Hymel; Kristin Curran, senior occupational therapy major and DRIVE mentor; and Heather Bond, program manager attended the event. Prior to one of the plenary sessions, Clinton discussed the DRIVE program while sharing the stage with Hymel, Curran, and Burke.

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